Monday, December 23, 2013
Finally reaching the $189 million crossroads, the Yankees apparently will let others determine the future
Posted by el duque at 7:39 AM
If you consider how close the 2013 Yankees came to making the one-game playoff, last winter's austerity budget looks even more punishing. When Brian Cashman said, "Beggars cannot be choosers," he wasn't talking about Josh Hamilton. He was talking about chasing middling infielders and fourth outfielders - or watching Russell Martin walk because the Yankees wouldn't give him a two-year deal. But at the time, it seemed a worthy cause. A sacrifice for the future.
Today, the Yankees sit at the cusp of the $189 million payroll, but - amazingly - they have lost control over the process. Whether they make it will be determined by two decisions outside the organization: 1) the arbiter's ruling on A-Rod's ban, and 2) whether the Golden Eagles of Japan let pitcher Masahiro Tanaka come to America. Either decision could explode the Yankee payroll and make the 2013 austerity plan an exercise in corporate incompetence.
Can you imagine the managerial upheavals if - say - Pepsico spent an entire year cutting a product, and then reversed course and pushed it? Think any executives would walk the plank, or at least be demoted?
Right now, the 2014 Yankees are a hologram, a mirage, still taking shape. They have six outfielders but no full infield, no fourth or fifth starters, no bullpen setup man, no rookies. Nobody can judge this team, because it simply cannot be like this on April 1, unless Vernon Wells pitches. But the questions remain: Will the Yankees hit the $189 million mark? Will last year have meant something? Will they change their ways? Or is this the Yankee model for perpetuity: An annual parade of old, tired, brittle, overpriced, former stars, a pre-retirement home for players whose great years came in other cities? We spend five times the amount of other teams just to contend for the post-season?
Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s - the 14-year barf - writers and fans opined about what the Yankees could do with all their money if the front office wasn't so moronic. Year after year, the Yankees were a disaster - "the worst team money can buy," pundits said. Nothing changed until George Steinbrenner was banned from the game, and a group of baseball people started making decisions - (such as to NOT trade the disappointing prospect, Bernabe Williams.) The Yankees collapsed into dead last, and only then did they begin to improve.
That's history, folks. And from where we're sitting this Christmas week - clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right - history sure looks like it's repeating.